Mr Mugabe was born on 21 February 1924 in what was then Rhodesia, a British colony, run by its white minority. He was imprisoned for more than a decade without trial after criticising the government of Rhodesia in 1964.
Once released, he headed to Mozambique, from where he directed guerrilla raids into Rhodesia. But he was also seen as a skilled negotiator. Political agreements to end the crisis resulted in the new independent Republic of Zimbabwe.
With his high profile in the independence movement, Mr Mugabe secured an overwhelming victory in the republic’s first election in 1980.
He abolished the office in 1987, becoming president instead – a post he would retain through both electoral success and the use of violence for decades to come.
But over his decades in power, international perceptions soured, with an increasing number of critics portraying Mr Mugabe as a dictator.
In 2000, facing serious political opposition for the first time, he seized white-owned farms to resettle black farmers, causing economic disruption but boosting his popularity among supporters.
The former president was praised for broadening access to health and education for the black majority.
But later years were marked by violent repression of his political opponents and Zimbabwe’s economic ruin.
Mr Mugabe had been receiving treatment in a hospital in Singapore since April. He was ousted in a military coup in 2017 after 37 years in power.
His successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, expressed his “utmost sadness”, calling Mr Mugabe “an icon of liberation”.